A high-speed train from Nanjing to Chengdu will be up and running by the end of this month, allowing passengers to travel between the two cities in a mere nine hours.
Originally scheduled for a 2011 opening, the 2,078-kilometer Shanghai-Wuhan-Chengdu high-speed railway comprises the longest horizontal cross in the 4 by 4 grid of high-speed train lines that will eventually cover the entire country.
The train will travel at speeds of up to 200 kmph and pass through Shanghai, Nanjing, Hefei, Wuhan, Chongqing, and Chengdu.
The total journey time between Shanghai and Chengdu will be about 10 hours, less than a third of the current travel time of over 30 hours on the "K" express trains.
To date, fares for the new train lines have not been announced.
In addition to the Chengdu-Dujiangyan-Qingcheng Shan line that opened earlier this year, high-speed lines currently under construction include Chengdu-Suining-Chongqing and Chengdu-Nanchong-Dazhou.
These routes are just part of a comprehensive plan to further cement Sichuan as a vital transportation and economic center in southwest China, linking Chengdu via high-speed rail to other major cities in the region as well as the rest of the country.
By 2014, many of these trains will be running, and previously days-long journeys will be shortened to a few hours. The Chengdu to Xi'an trip, for instance, will be reduced from 13 hours to a mere two or three hours; another three will take passengers all the way to Beijing. The Chengdu to Guangzhou trip, currently around 30 hours, will be shortened to six hours.
And the train from Chengdu to Guiyang, and passing through Le Shan and Yibin, also currently a 13-hour trek, will run at speeds of up to 350 kmph along the world's first high-speed mountainous railway, completing the entire route in just two hours.
The Chengdu-Kunming line, instead of twisting around the mountains, will lie in a more straight line, and that in combination with the higher speeds will reduce travel times to all destinations along the route. Departing from Chengdu, that train will arrive in Xichang two hours later (currently an 11-hour ride), Panzhihua an hour after that, and Kunming in two more hours, shortening the current 18-hour ride to 5 hours.
Trains running between Chengdu and Chongqing have been making the journey in increasingly less time over the past few years, going from 5 hours to three, and finally to two. By 2014, passengers will be able to travel between the two cities in under one hour, and trains will run every 3 to 5 minutes, allowing Chengdu residents to work in Chongqing and vice versa, potentially morphing the two urban centers into one huge megalopolis.
Additional high-speed routes include Chengdu-Mianyang-Le Shan, Chengdu-Neijiang-Chongqing, Mianyang-Suining-Neijiang-Yibin.